Joel Schlessinger MD shares his thoughts on airplane safety and asking for doctor help on board so you can be prepared.
Joel Schlessinger MD shares his thoughts on airplane safety and asking for doctor help on board so you can be prepared.

When we usually think of airplane safety, we think of buckled seatbelts, floatation devices and oxygen masks. But what happens when there’s a medical emergency when you’re 32,000 feet in the air? If you’ve ever been on an airplane when the flight attendant asks if there is a physician on board, you know how terrifying it can be.

Joel Schlessinger MD was recently featured in an LA Times article, In-flight first aid: What’s a passenger to do?, where here shared his thoughts on the topic as a frequent-traveling physician who has aided in medical airplane safety.

You can help struggling passengers. Here’s how.

“If a passenger notices another struggling person on an aircraft, it is very important to remain calm and summon for help. It may be difficult, but it is the best way to get the attention of another person and receive doctor help,” said the doctor.

Once a flight attendant is aware of the situation, he or she will usually make an announcement over the intercom system asking for the help of a physician.  This is both for airplane safety and for the safety of the passengers.

How can a doctor help? Joel Schlessinger shares experiences.

Although many physicians may have emergency room training, the doctor says that some physicians “don’t have the knowledge to manage a complex and critical medical problem.”

“There are many different skill sets in physicians,” said the doctor, “and some tend to shy away from acute care/management due to their personalities.

“In the time since I have been a doctor, there have been three instances where I have been called upon to give help to a passenger.”

Joel Schlessinger MD said one of the most concerning times was when a passenger lost consciousness right before landing. It was unclear if the passenger was having a stroke or not. After the passenger was sent to the hospital, it was discovered that the passenger had a seizure condition and had not been taking medication.

“The passenger was released without any further problems, but it was difficult during the time that we didn’t know about the condition. We had no background information on this passenger, making it very difficult to treat.”

Have you ever been called upon to help a passenger? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Posted Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 at 2:31 pm
Filed Under Category: Dr. Joel Schlessinger, Dr. Joel Schlessinger Media Blog
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